Ritam is a Sanskrit word referring to an embodied sense of truth or Brahman as a natural order and
Bhara means filled with. Hence Ritambhara Ashram literally means a place of quiet, filled with truth.
All of us are capable of living in a way that is full of rhythm and beauty. When we live like this there is a cadence in our gait as we walk, there is poetry in our words when we talk.
Why then am I feeling boxed in?
Probably because you are on the relentless treadmill of a work-a-day world. You just have not given yourself a pause, or taken the time for quietude and reflection.
Is it that easy?
Yes, it is. You just have to rediscover your ability to listen.
Why did I lose it?
As children, all of us are born with the ability to listen, to be in rhythm with our world. As we grow up, we get caught up with the idea of success and achievement. We lose sight of our dreams, we lose sight of deep aspirations, and we lose a measure of our real gifts and capacities.
Ok, help me understand this a little more.
When we are in the box, on the treadmill, and driven by the urge to succeed, we see the world and our selves in a deeply judgmental way. We also become deaf to anything that, in our judgement, will distract us from the goal.
We restrict our world, making it small and our bodies and minds tense. The tension reflects as restlessness, restlessness triggers appetites, and appetites trigger compulsivity. The person who is intellectual will read compulsively, a more physically oriented person will engage in sports, some just give in to eating and being emotionally manipulated by the Television.
How do I get out of this box?
Very simply, decide to take a short break, and retreat from this world. A bit of deep replenishment will do you a lot of good.
Come to Ritambhara, and learn how to listen. Engage in dialogues with nature, with our community, with your own body and self.
We will help you reconnect with your inner nature, and discover the strength to start investing in your gifts. If you are already on the path, connecting with members of the community can help make your journey more profound.
If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.
What prompted you to create this space?
Raghu and I had been sitting with the question, “What is our next step in the world?” We had always been deeply involved in exploring alternative ways of looking at life, and we have shared our learnings with others over many years. We also have welcomed others involved in the search into our home and our lives. That process, of helping people engage in discovery of themselves and their environment, is now our main priority through this centre.
This was a call, and we heard it clearly, but it took us some time to find the right place. The Nilgiris beckoned; the land here is ancient and uncontaminated. As soon as I saw it, I knew this was where we would create our space to foster this enquiry.
What should we know about Ritambhara?
Ritambhara is not a resort for the pleasure seeking crowd or for those seeking the promise of heaven. We are talking about taking responsibility for oneself and one’s environment. We want you to open up your senses and push the frontiers of your understanding. We will take you through certain processes, but it is crucial that you involve yourself in them.
Who helped you start your journey?
Our spiritual journey was sparked by J. Krishnamurthi. Dharampal Ji evoked in us a curiosity to discover the heritage of India, and we continued to explore this and under the guidance of Yogacharya Sri Krishnamacharya, Pulin Garg and Ganapati Sthapati.
Dharampal Ji raised the question to us educated intellectuals, “How are you going to enable India to become a great country?” He explained that we could not lobotomise our Indian nature and culture from ourselves, and it was a futile effort to run behind Western ideals of progress and development. He challenged us to discover what it meant to be Indian, to invest in it, and help it grow into a powerful, contemporary identity. In his mind, that was the only way forward. He asked us to go beyond our intellectual understanding of culture and heritage, something that we could acquire through books, and go in search of gurus who were actually holding the tradition.
And this is what we did. Raghu chose Yogacharya Sri Krishnamacharya to explore his interest in Yoga and Prof. Pulin K. Garg to understand Process Work and I chose Ganapati Sthapati to study traditional architecture. He was the guide who led me to discover the other India. It was an unbroken, continuous heritage that he was living in, and it was an extraordinary thing for me to receive.
We spent 10 years with our teachers, and our focus in that time and thereafter, was not just to hold the tradition in the way it was taught to us as faithful students, but to be able to carry it into our daily lives and translate it for the people who came into our lives, into their language. In our own way, we have not only been contextualising it for the people we meet, but also helping the knowledge remain alive in changing contexts.
This was one of the most important learnings from Dharamapal Ji, and all our teachers; how to treat knowledge not as deadwood but as a living entity, to invest it in a growing environment, and to allow it to become many shoots.
Over the years, we engaged with this subject through many forms and in many forums, conducting workshops and seminars, engaging with colleges and corporates alike. All of this work has led to the creation of Ritambhara, and the community that now co-holds the space. Serious students who came seeking us, with the will to actively engage in the teachings now form the community that we hope will only continue to grow. After years of carrying the responsibility of holding the precious knowledge that we received, it is now, at this time, that we can sit quietly in this forest and have people come here to learn from us, from others, and from themselves. It is a beautiful moment at this stage of our journey, and we are thankful to be able to share it with others on the path.
Raghu and I have weathered many storms. Our lives went into a nightmarish phase because of a familial business context that drew us down into a terrible vortex. The crisis took more than a decade to resolve. What kept us going during this very difficult period was our contact with Krishnaji and our study of Yoga with Desikachar and his father. This learning enabled us to grow and evolve as we confronted the challenges life threw at us. Pulin Garg and Ganapati Sthapati mentored and nurtured us through our professional growth. What we are offering at the Ritambhara Ashram is a distillation of the learnings we have received from these extraordinary teachers, the essence that enabled deep transformation in our lives.
We have created the garden, and things will grow.